Thursday, 14 April 2016



THIS WEEK in a supermarket I met a clergyman (not Roman Catholic) who was hugely overweight and obese who wanted to tell me about his Bible based objections to homosexuality and homosexuals.

Early in the conversation he realised that HE did not LOOK the picture of piety and aestheticism and told me that his obesity was due to parishioners giving him buns and cake when he visited them! 

He obviously expects homosexual people to "control" themselves and not "give in" to the sin he sees as LUST while at the same time he himself is not avoiding the FIFTH DEADLY SIN of gluttony.

My meeting with this "man of God" coincided with comments on the Blog about the problem of Catholic priests overeating and becoming obese as a coping mechanism - possibly as a way of coping with their sexual appetites not being satisfied.

While of course I am no stick insect myself  :-)  I do think that there is an important topic for discussion here.

In one my books I quote a retreat master speaking to the priests of the Archdiocese of Dublin saying:


Maybe we can add TOO MUCH FOOD to the retreat givers list?

Cardinal Dolan of New york

Now I am sure some priests are obese because of some genetic condition. I have heard a number of priests claim this.

And of course not all priests are overweight. I do not even know if there is a higher rate of obesity among priests than their is among the population in general?

Indeed a priest's duties are not very physical. So if they want exercise they will not get it at work and they must look elsewhere for it. 

But I do know that in general priests are well fed. When I was in St Peter's Cathedral in the Lower Falls lunch EVERYDAY consisted of:

Vegetable Broth - always laced with sherry.
A meat main course.
A calorific desert.
Coffee laced with brandy / cognac. 

There was also red wine EVERYDAY.

Father McKinley RIP was in charge of the viands and Father Joe McGurnaghan RIP was in charge of the bar and the wine cellar.

Joe McGurnaghan
The yearly CONFIRMATION dinners at the Cathedral rivalled anything that a Roman Emperor ever presided over. 

One parish priest - whom I knew and actually liked - had pre dinner gins, white wine, red wine and finished off the meal by consuming a full 75 cl bottle of a liqueur called  CHARTREUSE

Needless to say it too quite a few of us to carry him from the dining room to his bed. 

Other clergy at the Confirmation dinners got so drunk that they stood up and performed highly inappropriate party pieces. One of the works I hear was by Father Sean Crummey, a curate at the Cathedral who rendered this awful verse:

Sean Crummey

"I am the King of Siam,
For women I don'y give a damn;
But a good looking boy,
Is always a joy...
They say I'm a bugger....
I am"

In fairness even the most hardened clerical cynic in the room was silent. That was of course in the days before the clerical abuse of boys by priests had been made public. Can you imagine the reaction today if a priest had that as his party piece - drunk or sober. 

There is a serious alcohol problem among the clergy - just as there is a serious gambling problem - just as there is a serious sex problem - just as there is a serious abuse of power problem - just as there is a serious misappropriation of funds problem.

Is it that surprising then that some priests have a serious eating and obesity problem?

Skinny Jesus - Fat .......


  1. The vices I remember being quoted were Cars Golf & Whiskey. I was a victim of the third myself. Drink was an immature coping mechanism while living within a system I did not trust and which i did not feel could adequately address my needs at the time. I do realise some clergy have a tendency to sublimise needs into rather extravagant pursuits

    1. Dear Father Page, We all know that your fell foul of "Punch" and eventually found "Judy". But were human and publicly honest. Some of us you left behind were not and are not the man and priest you were and are. Be happy.

      Elphin Priest.

    2. Dear Elphin Priest I am honoured and humbled by your response. I am not knocking Elphin or the past It was what it was & hindsight is a luxury of reflection. Kindest regards to all in the Diocese

  2. The mention of Sean Crummys party piece reminds me of a remark made by my sister a parishioner of the cathedral parish who passed a comment about the often mentioned Fr Hugh Kennedy. She said she though his party piece should be the old music hall favourite " The boy I love is up in the gallery"

  3. Pat, I think you unfairly assume that all priests dine the way you did with your colleagues at the cathedral 30 years ago. We do not! I live alone as a curate ordained more than 20 years. I have a decent house which I look after myself - I do my own cooking (and my meals are wholesome but never extravagant), I do my own washing and ironing, cleaning, etc. I enjoy the freedom that all the housework brings me. I was reared in a normal family where we all mucked in and did our bit. I exercise every day by going for a 5 mile walk because, not only is it good for my waistline, it also nourishes my mind.
    Yes, lots of priests think they're above the ordinary person but not all of us do. I respect your opinions but I think it's a generalisation and hence, unfair.

    1. Father, I know there are many priests like you.

      I too do my own cooking and house chores. I have no housekeeper and have not had since I was a curate in Larne 30 years ago.

      This Blog was written after comments were submitted and to allow discussion of the topic.

    2. I also as a priest look after myself - no housekeepers - no "Mrs Doyle". The microwave is a great invention. I am big and ugly enough to look after myself. I think some priests used to live like lords with "servants". Some old parochial houses had little bells in the dining room for the PP to ring when he was ready for his next course!! Not today, thank God.

    3. There are two different things under discussion here - one is the lordly way clergy used to live and the other is the real problem that eating can present to some people, just in the same way that alcohol does. Of course in addition to the question of whether a Christian ought to be frank with himself about all his relationships, including with food, drink, and so on, there is the ethical question that obese clergy present. I made the original comment on the previous post, and was thinking more of what is actually happening when an obese man (or an alcoholic, or someone with three women on the go) acts in persona Christi. Regardless of arguments about the church being for sinners, it spells that Christ is being embodied in the church by a man who because of his addiction has his attention divided.
      I am sure the priest who walks five miles a day is not overweight and will come across many opportunities to minister to people. Similarly doing your own housework connects you to your own needs and nature in a way largely lost in our modern world.

  4. When I first started off my first PP was an Irishman (I'm in an English diocese) and he had us spoiled. There were 3 of us assisting him in the parish. Dinner was every night at 6 sharp. The best of nosh and on Sunday we always had roast. The cook, an old Irish woman was a dream. Every main meal had 3 courses. The laughter and the fun around the table was great. He would often recall his own early experiences in priesthood with hard and miserable PPs and he vowed he would never be like them. He was good to his word he gave me a great start.
    My next PP was the very opposite. Dull and miserable. The presbytery lacked atmosphere and warmth compounded by his switching off the heating after 8pm at night no matter the weather. I hope God will forgive me for my lack of charity but when he dropped dead I was privately delighted.
    I had the run of the parish then until the new PP arrived. It was his first parish as boss and he was great. Food and drink galore. We turned into a great team. Happy days.
    After getting my own parish, which is quite rural I decided to be like my previous mentors but as I have no curates I'm just very good to myself and hayho I'm still a happy priest.

  5. When we look at life from a natural perspective then all we will see are the faults and failings. If you look at John the Baptist, he was the one who said ‘behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’. Later he sent two of his disciples to Jesus to ask him if he was the one to come or did they have to wait for someone else. And Jesus’ reply was ‘go back and tell John all that you have seen and heard: the blind see again, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear and the dead are raised to life, the Good News is proclaimed to the poor and blessed is the man who does not lose faith in me’. The Greek word is ‘skandalizo’ which means to take offence. So Jesus was saying blessed are those who do not take offence in me and lose faith. Why would John take offence? Many people including the Scribes and Pharisees also took offence at the ministry of Jesus, why? Jesus was associating with tax collectors, prostitutes and was known as a glutton and wine drinker and Jesus was not living up to the expectations of what John considered the Christ to be and that’s where the offence came. There are many churches and church people like that today. They separate themselves away from the very people that need their help. Don’t smoke, don’t drink, don’t curse, don’t swear and take what St Paul said in 2 Cor 6 literally and separate themselves and keep aloof from everyone else, but that needs to be balanced with what Jude said in his letter that ‘when there are some to be saved from the fire, pull them out; but there are others to whom you must be kind with great caution’. When we begin to see people through the eyes of Christ, then we will begin to see all the potential and the good that they can offer, then we will begin to sacrifice our own lives and our own reputations so that all that potential and good can come forth. Jesus saw the potential in the woman caught in adultery when everyone else was accusing her. The Lord saw in Gideon a mighty warrior, when he was crouching with fear in the winepress. He saw in Peter a rock when he was more like a skittle on a bowling alley; God looks at the finished work. He can change anyone.

    1. Dear 17:39, PRAISE THE LORD !!!!!

    2. I do not think you need to get out any more in the fresh air!
      17.39 - on the other hand does need som serious assistance!

    3. Nice to hear something pleasant for a change!
      Too many strange bloggers here - what is 17.39 getting at?

  6. Dear 15:50
    You really do need to get out a bit more in the fresh air. Bless!

    1. Can you explain what you are getting tan-.17.39???!
      Another inane, incomprehensible comment.

    2. I "haven't worked it out" either. We did ask for an explanation - please - please - enlighten us! I walk a lot - what am I missing???!!

    3. Dear Anonymous 15 April 22.58
      Please - please explain it to us!!
      What am I missing - I walk a lot - have budgies in the house. So far fresh air and birdsong have not enlightened me!

  7. If you haven't worked it out yet 15:50. Your post is bordering on anal !! Take a chill pill and get out into the fresh air and listen to the birdsong.

  8. MourneManMichael16 April 2016 at 01:36

    Would be good if you guys & gals would adopt a handle so we could work out who is saying what, responding to what, and disputing with whoever etc etc!
    So far there are 46 of we 'responders' who have adopted a 'handle', and that's useful in relating responses, but also shows the widespread nature/geographical nature of contributions, and sometimes the background of contributor, for example as a cleric or layperson.
    I say that simply from my interest in trying to understand the demographic of those following +Pat's blogs.
    Posts as anonymous regularly show inherent clues of similarity leading readers to surmise that it's the same person, but why can't we all assist the debates by providing a 'handle' to link a contribution and facilitate any potential response? Simple, , ....or is it?

  9. Any reports from yesterday's gay pilgrimage to Clonard. Was it a bright colourful affair or just a damp squib?
    Was there a human chain of D&C clergy blocking the road with Bishop Treanor in the centre or did wise counsel prevail and let the jamboree pass virtually unnoticed ?
    Larry from the Loney

  10. Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look!!!!!